We are thrilled to publish Belonging Street by Mandy Coe. These are poems with a big heart. I love the way Mandy’s eye for detail picks out the comedy and quirks of family life, while her love of nature and concern for the environment shine through, helping the reader see the world afresh. Puzzles, riddles and wordplay provide an extra dimension. This is poetry of immense craft and skill, a joy to share.

We have one exciting debut collection this year, Laura Mucha’s fabulous Dear Ugly Sisters. Funny, edgy, very contemporary and often surprising, these poems have a distinctive voice, often in the first person, incorporating shape poems, visual surprises on the page and endings with a twist. Laura captures moments of questioning, explores feelings, fairy tale, science and nature. This is a wide- ranging collection from a poet to watch.

And so to the publication of The Girl Who Became a Tree by Joseph Coelho. It’s the first time we’ve published a YA verse novel and it’s been an empowering journey, working closely with the poet. From first manuscript we knew we had something truly original and special and the finished book, with darkly evocative pictures by Kate Milner, shows the power of a story told in poems. Using a variety of different forms, the poet unpeels the outer layers of Daphne’s grief over the loss of her father, switching between the contemporary girl and the Daphne of Greek myth. With a mix of fantasy and real life and unforgettable characters, including the forest itself, Daphne journeys towards understanding, hope and renewal. This book shows a poet reaching new heights with his verse.

And finally, heading towards Christmas, two wonderful treasures of poetry and illustration. In Crocodile Tears, publishing 8 October, poetry legend Roger McGough presents a deceptively simple yet profound picture book, with animator Greg McLeod, about the crocodile who leaves the jungle for the bright lights of London but soon longs for home. Witty, dark, funny and touching, the story is told in rhyming four line verses and poems in the form of letters to Mother. Brilliant!

And lastly, those gems of early childhood, nursery rhymes. The Jackie Morris Book of Classic Nursery Rhymes contains 40 familiar and lesser known rhymes brought to beautiful life through the amazing pictures of Jackie Morris. This is poetry for everyone, 0-90, and Jackie’s mission is to help these precious rhymes become known and loved by families today, to be passed on through the generations.

Thank you to all our fantastic poets and illustrators for the magic that happens when poetry and readers connect.

Hannah Rolls, editorial director Bloomsbury Children’s Books

2020 has been a brilliant year of poetry for us here at Bloomsbury. We started with Welcome to My Crazy Life by Joshua Seigal in January, which features poems on every topic from demon cats, to coffee monsters, to why you should NEVER forget your trousers. This is a must-have new collection from the winner of the 2020 Laugh Out Loud awards. Aimed at children aged 8+, this is perfect for anyone who still thinks poetry is boring. A word of warning: find a hankie before you attempt to read Barney, the last poem in this collection about a much-loved family dog. Watching Joshua reduce about half the Bloomsbury staff to tears at our last in-person sales presentation before lockdown was a personal highlight this year – a reminder of how powerful the books we publish can be.

Bright Bursts of Colour by Matt Goodfellow published in February and is his first book for Bloomsbury. There’s plenty of comedy to enjoy here (a slug who dresses up as a badger for instance) but Matt also has an outstanding ability to focus in on the things that really affect children: what it’s like to live half the week with Mum and half with Dad, or how it feels when a friend moves away, for example. With engaging illustrations from Aleksei Bitskoff, this is a collection to treasure.

The arrival of National Poetry Day in October always results some poetry gems and this year is no different. In September we published two books which I think will become future classics. The first of these is The Book of Not Entirely Useful Advice by the inimitable A.F. Harrold, illustrated by picture book star Mini Grey. This is a riotous celebration of words and a modern take on cautionary tales – featuring advice on parrots, gravy, mathematics, castles (bouncy), spiders, vegetables (various), breakfast, cakes, and removing ducks from soup. Mini’s artwork compliments the silly fun perfectly, making this a collection that will delight readers of all ages.

Our other poetry book this autumn is an anthology: Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble edited by Paul Cookson. This is a selection of poems on the theme of magic and includes work by a range of poets old and new – everyone from Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll and Tennyson to John Agard, Valerie Bloom and Benjamin Zephaniah. Dragons, wizards, wands, unicorns, magic carpets… you’ll find every kind of magic in this gorgeous hardback along with stunning illustrations by Eilidh Muldoon.

8 Books for Keeps National Poetry Day 2020

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